Leaked Iran Paper Based on Intel that Split IAEA

WASHINGTON (IPS) — Excerpts of the internal draft report by the staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published online last week show that the report’s claims about Iranian work on a nuclear weapon is based almost entirely on intelligence documents which have provoked a serious conflict within the agency.

Contrary to sensational stories by the Associated Press and the New York Times, the excerpts on the website of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) reveal that the IAEA’s Safeguards Department, which wrote the report, only has suspicions – not real evidence – that Iran has been working on nuclear weapons in recent years.

The newly published excerpts make it clear, moreover, that the so-called “Alleged Studies” documents brought to the attention of the agency by the United States five years ago are central to its assertion that Iran had such a programme in 2002-03.

Whether those documents are genuine or were fabricated has been the subject of a fierce struggle behind the scenes for many months between two departments of the IAEA.

Some IAEA officials began calling for a clear statement by the agency that it could not affirm the documents’ authenticity after the agency obtained hard evidence in early 2008 that a key document in the collection had been fraudulently altered, as previously reported by this writer. As journalist Mark Hibbs reported last week in Nucleonics Week, opposition to relying on the intelligence documents has come not only from outgoing Director General Mohamed ElBaradei but from the Department of External Relations and Policy Coordination.

Since September 2008, however, the Safeguards Department, headed by Olli Heinonen, has been pressing for publication of its draft report as an annex to a regular agency report on Iran.

Heinonen leaked the draft to Western governments last summer, and in September it was leaked to the Associated Press and ISIS. That has generated sensational headlines suggesting that Iran can already build a nuclear bomb.

The draft report says the agency “assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device”. But other passages indicate the authors regard such knowledge only as a possibility, based on suspicions rather than concrete evidence.

It says the “necessary information was most likely obtained from external sources and probably modified by Iran”. But it cites only the 15-page “uranium metal document” given by the A. Q. Khan network to Iran when it purchased centrifuge designs in 1987.

“Based on the information in the document,” it says, “it is possible that Iran has knowledge regarding the contents of a nuclear package.”

The IAEA “suspects” that the 15-page document was part of “larger package that Iran may have obtained but which has not yet come to the Agency’s attention”, according to the leaked excerpts.

But that document only outlines procedural requirements for casting uranium into hemispheres, not the technical specifications, as the IAEA report of Nov. 18, 2005 noted. No evidence has ever surfaced to challenge the Iranian explanation that Khan’s agents threw in the document after a deal had been reached on centrifuges in an effort to interest Iran in buying the technology for casting uranium.

The IAEA affirmed that it has found no evidence that Iran ever acquired such technology.

The only external “nuclear package” ever reported to have been provided to Iran is a set of flawed technical designs for a “high-voltage block” for a Russian-designed nuclear weapon, which was slipped under the door of the Iranian mission in Vienna by a Russian scientist working for CIA’s Operation Merlin in February 2000.

Another far-reaching claim in the draft report is that the IAEA “has information, known as the Alleged Studies, that the Ministry of Defence of Iran has conducted and may still be conducting a comprehensive programme aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system.”

It does not explain how the “Alleged Studies”, which are documents on work done in 2002 and 2003, could have any bearing on whether Iran is now conducting work on nuclear weapons.

Using the same language found in published IAEA reports, the draft suggests that the Alleged Studies intelligence documents represent credible evidence. “The information, which has been obtained from multiple sources, is detailed in content and appears to be generally consistent,” it says.

But that characterisation of the intelligence first shown to the IAEA by the United States in 2005 has been contested by sceptics in the agency. A senior IAEA official familiar with the documents suggested in an interview with IPS last month that the claim of “multiple sources” may be misleading.

Given the existence of “intelligence sharing networks”, the official said, “one can’t rule it out that one organisation got the intelligence and shared it with others.” That would explain the reference to “multiple sources consistent over time”, he said.

The initial U.S. account, according to the official, was that the documents came from the laptop computer of one of the Iranian participants in the alleged nuclear weapons research programme. Later, however, that account was “walked back”, he said.

“There are holes in the story,” said the official.

The introduction by ISIS to the excerpts from the report, evidently based on conversations with the IAEA personnel, confirms that the documents did not come from Iran on a laptop computer, as U.S. officials had claimed in the past. It suggests that the documents were smuggled out of Iran as “electronic media” by the wife of an Iranian who had been recruited by German intelligence and was later arrested.

That new explanation is highly suspect, however, because an intelligence agency would not confirm the identity of one of their agents, even if he were arrested. Asked about the ISIS account, Paul Pillar, who was national intelligence office for the Middle East when the “laptop documents” surfaced, said it “sounds unusual”.

The draft report also argues that the information in the documents is credible, because it “refers to known Iranian persons and institutions under both the military and civil apparatuses, as well as to some degree to their confirmed procurement activities”.

But the senior IAEA official cast doubt on that claim as well. The names of people working in the relevant Iranian military and civilian organisations are readily obtainable, he observed. “It’s not difficult to cook up such a document,” the official told IPS.

The draft paper states that the agency “does not believe that Iran has yet achieved the means of integrating a nuclear payload into the Shahab 3 delivery system with any confidence that it would work”.

That statement hints at the fact that the reentry vehicle studies were found to have serious technical problems. The senior IAEA official told IPS that the Sandia National Laboratories, which ran computer simulation analyses of the plan, not only found that none of them would have worked, but had expressed doubt that they were genuine.

The paper makes an indirect reference to a plan for a bench-scale facility for uranium conversion, but does not mention that it had several technical flaws, as acknowledged by Heinonen in a February 2008 briefing for members.

Nor do the draft report’s conclusions deal with the fact, confirmed by the senior IAEA official to IPS, that none of the intelligence documents have any security markings, despite the fact they are purported to be part of what presumably would have been Iran’s most highly classified programme.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. His latest book, with John Kiriakou, is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis: From CIA Coup to the Brink of War. Read other articles by Gareth.

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on October 7th, 2009 at 9:46pm #

    This fiasco is delivered to us by the same pathological liars who brought us the ‘sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the ‘deliberate shooting-down’ of KAL 007, ‘yellow rain’ in Cambodia, the Bulgarian/KGB link to the attempted assassination of Wojtyla, Iraqi ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ and Saddam’s quest for uranium in Niger. There are, of course, scores more examples. These creatures, by which I mean the evil bastards of Western intelligence and the propagandists who collaborate with them, are recidivist liars and disinformationists. Yet every new lie is peddled by the media sewer and its inhabitants with enthusiasm. What is it about the Western ‘Free Press’? Is it absolute stupidity, Alzheimic inability to recall any previous experience with these liars, or simply service to power by human insects who put their careers, as paid peddlers of untruth and facilitators of mass murder, before the existence of those millions who will be obliterated if the evil ones have their way, yet again.

  2. Wingnut said on October 8th, 2009 at 10:09am #

    Great article/report, Gareth. And MM… excellent reply. Gosh, I didn’t think ANYONE remembered the KAL007 thing. I was in the US Air Force, stationed in Korea, at the time.

    MM, the “human insects” explanation is close to correct. I don’t know if you are from/in America, but I’ve done a fairly comprehensive study of the situation, and I can TRY to explain the whole shebang if you have enough patience.

    One of the biggest problems in America, currently, is the rat-racing pyramid scheme called capitalism (see Colombian FreeMason/Illuminate pyramid scheme symbol on back of USA dollar. See “district of Colombia” for location of USA AmWay/AmericaWay headquarters… not part of USA. See Google image search for ‘pyramid of capitalist’ for more embarrassment).

    We (actually THEY, as I’m not capitalist at all)… have three runaway addictions/self-lies going-on in the USA.

    1. They have a runaway enjoyments addiction… part of the “getting a leg-up” of doing rat-racing pyramid schemes-o-servitude such as capitalism/AmWay. This “shopping addiction” and mesmerization due to licking ice cream/sweets/meats… takes a baseball bat up-side the head to cause the little children addicts to break-free from the “stupor” and do some critical thinking and owning-up to the disgusting little sheisters that they are/have-(let themselves) become. They are little “do as you’re told” herd followers… choosing to be “normal” (herd) instead of choosing to be correct and owned-up.

    2. They have a runaway “Yay, American, ain’t we powerful and great” addiction, not realizing that the ONLY measuring-criteria that the USA is great-at… is hide-gouging and the unfriendliness and forsaking that goes WITH such things. All other measurement criteria of “value” have been ignored (love, sharing, efficiency, repairability, reuseability, egalitarianism, equality, monetary discrimination levels, etc etc). THEY have become professional forsakers and negligent homicidal maniacs, all because of the blinders caused buy this phenomena, and buy the enjoyments mesmerization mentioned in #1.

    3. They have a runaway need for the empowerment gotten via owning things, and making them “my my my”, as in my money, my husband, my kids, my house, my doctor, my lawyer, my cigarette, my lunch break, my wages, my boss, my kids, my owned things, my my my my. Mostly, its the empowering green-paper false idol paper-worshipping things, though… money and entitles of ownership. Its related to the enjoyments addiction from #1.

    Think about how these three things… affect the Purina Sheeple Chow from the media. Its a complicated problem. Again, excellent report and comments… a pleasure to read, but a sad subject indeed.

    And now… yet another message from the MaStars Anti-Capitalism-ists (system fighters, not role-playing-people fighters) campaign…

    Readers… capitalists… you DO see the pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA one dollar bill, right? You DO see the servitude infestation in capitalism, right? And do you see the “pay up or lose your wellbeing” Chicago mob-like felony extortion widespread within capitalism? Do you see the “join or starve” felony extortion done to the 18 year olds… by this ugly competer’s church called capitalism? See how forcing competer’s religions onto 18 year olds… kills membership in the cooperator’s church (Christianity/socialism)?? Do you understand that AmWay (American Way) (New World Order) got “the exclusive” (legal tender) on the TYPE of survival coupons (money) accepted in supply depots (stores) and leverages 18 year olds into the organization via that felony activity as well? (It puts AmWay-coupon slaving requirements called price tags… on all the survival goods). Do you understand how farmyard pyramids work… from your childhood?? Remember?? Upper 1/3 are “heads in the clouds” while the kids on the bottom ALWAYS GET HURT from the weight of the world’s knees in their backs? Still with me? Do you see anything illegal, immoral, or just plain sick… in any of this pyramid scheme’s activities?

    Us American Christian socialists are still patiently awaiting the natural fall of the pyramid-o-servitude, or the busting of the free marketeers felony… by the USA Dept of Justice. Us Christians are VERY CLOSE to issuing a cease and desist order until the servitude and inequality goes away… which means it turns into a commune. Commune is a word we LOVE when used in the word “community”… but its one the caps HATE when used in the term “commune-ism”. Go fig. PROGRAMMED!!

    Do a Google IMAGE SEARCH for ‘pyramid of capitalist’ to see a full color picture made way back in 1911, when capitalism was first discovered to be a con/sham instigated by the Free Masons/Illuminati. Folks sure bought into the thing… hook, line, and sinker just the same. The caps didn’t even check if a string was attached! Now THAT’S easy fishing, eh?

    Time to level the felony pyramid scheme called capitalism. Abolish economies and ownershipism worldwide, and hurry. Economies just cause rat-racing, and rat-racing causes felony pyramiding. BUST IT, America! Look to the USA military supply/survival system… (and the USA public library system) for socialism and morals done right. Equal, owner-less, money-less, bill-less, timecard-less, and concerned with growth of value-criteria OTHER THAN money-value. Quit doing monetary discrimination immediately, and make it illegal. There are MANY measurement criteria of “value”… not just dollars. Try morals, efficiency, discrimination-levels, repairability, etc etc. Economies are cancerous tumors, and to cheer for their growth… is just insane. Profiting causes inflation, so if caps LIKE inflation, and if they LIKE a terrible time in afterlife when they meet the planet’s ORIGINAL OWNER before caps tried to squat it all with ownershipism, then keep it up with the felony pyramiding. I dare you. While us Christians are finally bulldozing that pyramid scheme back to level, lets make servitude and “join or starve” (get a job or die) illegal in the USA, and lets level the architecture seen in USA courtrooms, too. Right now, USA courtrooms are church simulators or “fear chambers”, by special design. Sick.

    The “Fed” runs a pyramid scheme called the free marketeers. If you’re using the “federal reserve note” certificates, or using no-other-living-thing-on-the-planet entitles of ownership, you’re bought into a servitude/slavery con/sham… called capitalism. Pyramiding 101.

    Larry “Wingnut” Wendlandt
    MaStars – Mothers Against Stuff That Ain’t Right
    Bessemer MI USA